Self-optimizing hybrid power system

Increases system performance by reducing liquid fuel consumption and improving renewable source energy generation

Software & Information Technology Energy

Navy scientists have invented a photovoltaic, diesel-generator hybrid power system that reduces costs while enhancing performance. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

This hybrid power system enhances solar energy utilization through the optimal timing and management of petroleum generators. (Pixabay)

Hybrid power systems that combine multiple power sources and energy storage capabilities have become ubiquitous. A current approach to supporting ground-based power requirements involves designated electric diesel generators with specific capabilities. Because of inconsistencies in equipment sets, drastic power fluctuations, and a limited number of fielded generator sizes, properly sizing a generator to its load is challenging and often results in underutilization.

The primary function of a hybrid power system solves the sizing problem by using available energy storage to load a generator at peak efficiency whenever the generator is running. Current systems do not take full advantage of renewable sources, primarily because of the dominance struggles between power sources, the unavailability of energy storage when renewable sources are accessible, and conservative set points that trigger unnecessary generator starts. Navy research demonstrates the need for improvements in the reduction of fuel consumption to minimize the dangers and costs of logistics resupply in war zones.

Navy scientists have addressed these issues by developing a hybrid power system that maximizes the number of kilowatt-hours of energy production per gallon of fuel consumed while preserving the lifespan of the system through efficiently utilizing all components. The system is comprised of a generator, a solar energy device, batteries, a GPS, a thermometer, a solar irradiance sensor, a power manager, and a computer. The computer accesses a database of historic generator loads, location, solar irradiance, and temperature data to predict the solar profile, generator load, and optimized battery charging range. This invention enhances solar power utilization through intelligent timing and management of generator starts.

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